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Designed dishes: Glimpses from Mike A's at the Lafayette's tasting menu

Mike A's at the Lafayette, reviewed in today's Gusto section, presents its 10-course tasting menu ($125, $175 with drink pairings) as carefully composed plates that are meant to taste as good as they look. Here's a few examples of the dishes that earned Mike A's the News' top rating, 10 out of 10.

The "Scallop Crudo, Beef Fat Nam Pla, Finger Lime" surrounded slices of soft scallop with an arrangement of crunchy wax beans, shaved radish and broccoli stem. The orange strip is heirloom tomatoes transformed into a sort of fruit leather for adults, with concentrated tomato flavor. The sauce is Thai fish sauce caramel, whose sweet umami notes quietly support the fresh seafood.


A close-up shows the cluster of finger lime "caviar" perched on each scallop slice.


(Much more after the jump.)

The foie gras torchon was served with pickled white strawberries, aromatic with spices, a toasted pine nut sauce, and a caponata that included finely diced eggplant, and ground cherries, a sweet-tart relative of the tomatillo. I didn't think the dish needed more fat from nuts, but the pignoli did add toasty crunch.


Espelette pepper and Hawaiian salt are the reddish streak and pink crystals on the foie disc.

The Wagyu tartare was made with beef that's so rich it would approach overwhelming without the sharpness of pickled shallots.


The "Crispy Pork Rillette, Bee Pollen Tamarind, Watermelon Rind" was a delicious, playful dish that took barbecue from the backyard to the formal dining room. The croquettes were fried perfectly, which is shockingly rare.


Duck l'orange got an upgrade, like other classic dishes on the menu, giving up jammy orange glaze for intense orange sauce and candied peel, and adding terrific duck sausage and light gnocchi (with spruce buds) in the process.


The veal Oscar offered seared veal loin, pieces of crab, dabs of Bearnaise foam with tarragon, and asparagus, In a rare off note, the dark green tarragon strip looked out of place, and didn't taste like much.


Failing light made my picture of the second dessert (frozen gianduja mousse) unusable. The first was apricot-centric, based on slabs of barely sweetened apricot puree, sliced apricots, fragrant, crunchy chamomile streusel, and mascarpone infused with apricot pit essence.


Here's the night's omakase menu:


- Andrew Z. Galarneau

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